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The skinny on skim milk: Why it's doing you more harm than good

by Clare Deville (follow)
Editor in Chief of www.healthyhints.com.au
Nutrition (240)      Health Warnings (50)     
For decades the so-called experts have been advocating the consumption of low-fat milk and milk products, but it seems now that they had little evidence to base this on. The notion was largely constructed on the premise that the saturated fats in full fat dairy raise cholesterol and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease - all saturated fats became the bad guys.

Science now supports the notion that moderate doses of saturated fat actually benefit heart health and lower cholesterol. Though eternally divided, here's what some scientists now say about skim or low fat milk:

low fat milk can actually increase triglyceride levels.
A Harvard study linked high levels of low-fat dairy with anovulatory infertility in women.
Other studies have demonstrated that commercially available low fat milk promotes the development of DMBA-induced tumors in rats, and increases the risk for prostate cancer tumors.
A 2001 study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that children who consume skim milk have diarrhea at rates of three to five higher than those that drink full fat milk.
Many commercially available skim milks contain industrial powdered milk, which by law doesn't have to be labeled. During the process the cholesterol in the milk becomes oxidised, which is bad for you and bad for your heart health.

Conversely, full fat dairy may help to reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and weight gain. The fat in full fat milk not only helps the body digest the protein in milk and the bones absorb calcium, it contains the fat soluble vitamins A and D - the latter essential to the body's absorption of calcium.



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Don't skimp on the milk fat. Image courtesy of Somchai Som/freedigitalphotos.net


Real food is not made in a factory; ideally you want to be eating foods that are as close to their whole and natural state as possible. You can't take the fat out of milk, replace it with sugar to taste, and call it healthy - oh wait, apparently you can, but that doesn't make it true.

Regardless of what science or the experts (and I use that word loosely) say, the fact remains that the more you process and refine something, the further it gets from its whole, natural state, and the more it loses its inherent nutritional value.

When you hear people talking about a whole food diet, this is part of what they're referring to - why drink apple juice when you can eat a whole apple? And if you can drink milk straight from the cow, do it.



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Image courtesy of Fiona Pace


All milks are not created equal and if you're drinking dairy milk, your best option is a full fat raw milk, or at least a high quality organic and unhomogenised milk from grass fed cows. But skim or low fat milk will do you more harm than good.

Related articles
Ethical dairy in Australia

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